History

DS4: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar); Geoff Peel (guitar/vocals); Jack Sinclair (drums/vocals); Jos Mendoza (bass/vocals). Photo: Chiara Meattelli

Established in 2005

David Sinclair began his life as a band leader at a recording session in the Stone Room studio in West London on the eve of New Year’s Day 2005. Accompanied by bass player Elizabeth Kinder and drummer Drew Farmer, he recorded a song he had written called “Dusted & Rusted”. The desk was manned by Gareth Parton, who was about to become better known as co-producer of the Mercury Music Prize short-listed album “Thunder, Lightning, Strike” by the Go! Team.

DS3 Original Lineup

DS3 original line-up: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar); Drew Farmer (drums); Elizabeth Kinder (bass/vocals). Photo: Erik Russell

The session was a resounding success and the track quickly became an iPod favourite among a small but dedicated gang of insiders. Another song, "Bouquet of Weeds", was written and recorded in February 2005, then a third, "Pennies on a Plate", followed in March.

Elizabeth drifted off and was replaced by George Andrew on bass and backing vocals. George comes from Aberdeen, the Granite City, and that sums up the man. With his arrival came the rock on which the sound and spirit of the DS3 was built. A couple more tracks were completed, before Drew suddenly disappeared on a motorbike trip round Europe in search of the road less travelled.

In Drew’s absence, David’s son Jack Sinclair took over the drums for three of the album’s standout tracks: "Fajita Hell", "Life’s Too Serious" and "Down With Whatever".

"He is 14 and plays in at least two regular groups: Ophelia and the Midnight Sessions," David said. "He is a constant source of inspiration, not least with his uncanny knack of talking in song titles. 'Dusted & Rusted' and 'Fajita Hell' were both lifted straight from conversations with Jack."


Hey it's 2006

With Drew back, the group made its first public appearance on January 9, 2006 at an open mic night at The Roadhouse in Covent Garden. The Trio's first gig was at The Rifleman, Hounslow on February 17, where they opened with a song called "Not Another Wasted Day" which remains mysteriously unrecorded to this day.

If you start 'em up, they will never stop and the band played on throughout the year at London venues including The Borderline, the 100 Club and the 12-Bar Club and further afield in Nottingham, Birmingham and the legendary Boom Boom Club in Sutton. In July David was a guest on the Richard & Judy Show.

The first album, "Hey", was released on the Critical Discs label on September 26. The band celebrated its second anniversary on December 31 with a Hogmanay gig at the Amersham Arms in New Cross.


DS3 Mark II

DS3 Mk.2: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar); Drew Farmer (drums); George Andrew (bass/vocals); Jimi Hendrix (slight return). Photo: Marilyn Kingwill

Going Proper Nova in 2007

Proper, the biggest independent distributors in the UK, picked up the distribution of "Hey" in February 2007, and the band continued to promote the album with gigs and radio sessions while working on songs that David had started writing for the second album. With Gareth Parton once again behind the desk, the Trio began recording tracks in Fortress Studios in central London.

In September 2007, the group was signed to NovaTunes, a new American Internet label operating out of Venice Beach, California. Julie Bennett, a rising star of the Saatchi Gallery was commissioned to create a life-sized triptych of oil paintings of each member of the group for the cover artwork of the new album.

The producer Jon Slade videoed the whole of a DS3 gig at the 100 Club, and the band celebrated its third anniversary with a New Year’s Eve screening of the resulting "Live at the 100 Club" movie for friends and fans in a theatre at Sky TV.


Threewheeling in 2008

"Threewheeling" was released on Critical Discs/NovaTunes on February 11, 2008 and subsequently distributed on digital format by Proper.

Jack played his first live gig with the band on March 21, when Drew pulled a sickie on the day of a gig at the Boom Boom Club. The gig went so well that at the end the promoter leapt on stage and insisted the band play two more songs.

With Drew back in the saddle, the DS3 played the 100 Club three times, the Half Moons in Putney and Herne Hill, the Borderline, Wilton’s Music Hall, the Windmill in Brixton and a memorable gig with DS-lookalike Johnny Dowd at Dingwalls.

Jon Slade produced promotional videos for "London Dust" and "Feedback", the latter an eye-catching production which became the band’s most clicked performance on YouTube. In December, David hung out with Guthrie Govan at a guitar weekend in Guildford.

NovaTunes had ceased trading by the end of the year.

Remade in 2009

After one too many midnight rides down the A13, Drew hit the skids. David and George recruited Justin Hildreth as a temporary replacement behind the traps, and set off on a mini-tour of the North East of England. Finally, when a space appeared in his schedule, Jack Sinclair stepped in as full time drummer sending the musical bar rising to new heights and the average age of the group plummeting. A golden era of the DS3 dawned.

The band played a string of dates in exotic locations: Hertford, Whitstable, Bristol and the IPO Festival in the historic Cavern Club in Liverpool. In August David collaborated in song writing sessions with the Irish singer-songwriter Andy White and the guitarist Richard J. Parfitt, former frontman of the 60 Ft Dolls. Three new songs emerged from these sessions: "Looking for the Big Idea", "When Love Goes to Sleep" and "Perfect in Every Way".


Winter of 2010

The big freeze was setting in when David, George & Jack started the year with a live session for MySpace – performed in the offices of the social networking site’s London HQ above a Christmas-card view of New Oxford Street.

A planned trip to Rockfield Studio in Wales on January 9 was postponed because of the severe weather. But in February, the Trio made its first visit to Studio 91 in Newbury to record a track produced by the guitar hero Robin Trower. This was a landmark moment in the affairs of the DS3. Robin took the band through its paces with the sure touch of a master craftsman. Co-producing the session was his longtime collaborator, Livingstone Brown. And the engineer was the super-switched on Jordan Fish – who at the age of 23 was also the owner and manager of Studio 91. The track they recorded was "Living Like a Yo-Yo", a number with a sound and substance which trumped everything that had gone before.

In March the band went to Rockfield to record a song produced by former Gay Dad supremo Cliff Jones and Richard J. Parfitt. They came away with a version of "Perfect in Every Way" stamped with the inimitable touch of Richard’s guitar playing.

The group played a notable gig in Borderline Records in the middle of Brighton’s shopping centre in support of National Record Store Day on April 17 and returned to the IPO festival in Liverpool at the end of May and to Wilton’s Music Hall in October. They ended the year with a gig at the Lexington on December 23 - Jack's 20th birthday – and a Christmas show at the Boom Boom Club. Entering into the seasonal spirit, the Sutton Constabulary apprehended David after the gig and helpfully established that his level of alcohol per 100 milliletres of breath was 33 micrograms, a comfortable two points below the legal limit of 35. That's the power of The 3...


L-R: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar); Jack Sinclair (drums/vocals); George Andrew (bass/vocals)

DS3 Mk.3: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar); Jack Sinclair (drums/vocals); George Andrew (bass/vocals). Photo: Marilyn Kingwill

Take Me There in 2011

With Jordan Fish (later to become keyboard player in Bring Me The Horizon) producing, work began in earnest on the third DS3 album in Studio 91 on January 9. Jack knocked off his drum parts then made himself scarce, leaving David and George to bring the latest batch of songs to life. Guided by Jordan and his assistant Sam Winfield, they made unarguably the group’s best album yet – with the help of one or two high-powered friends. Pride of place among the guest cameos belonged to Radio 2 presenter and Blues Band legend Paul Jones who played harmonica on "Loneliness (Won’t Leave me Alone)" and "When Love Goes to Sleep" - performances of game-changing skill and grace.

The album was finished - recorded, mixed and mastered - on May 26. Named "Take me There" after a line in the final song "Caledonian Skies", it was released on Critical Discs/Proper on August 29, 2011. After appearances at Latitude Festival in July and the Rhythm Festival in August, a busy schedule of gigs to promote the album began in September at the Half Moon, Putney and continued until the end of the year.

Banging the Drum in 2012

Drummers are the High Plains Drifters of rock'n'roll. They never stay in one place for long. Between February 25 at a gig in Sevenoaks and April 25 at the Stables in Milton Keynes the DS3 played with five different drummers. There was Jack, of course, still the main man but increasingly on call for a variety of other work and musical duties. And there was Justin from the Blue Bishops, the band's go-to dep from days gone by. But it was the arrival of Brent Keefe that stabilised the situation. A masterful player and sight-reader, Brent brought experience and fresh energy to the band. At a gig at the 100 Club in October to celebrate David's birthday, both Brent and Jack were in the house - and both played - by which time the drummer problem from earlier in the year had faded into the distance.

DS3: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar); George Andrew (bass/vocals); Brent Keefe (drums). Photo: Vicki Couchman.

DS3 Mk.4: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar); George Andrew (bass/vocals); Brent Keefe (drums). Photo: Vicki Couchman.

The 100 Club was an amazing night which ended with David jamming on stage with the mighty Marcus Bonfanti who headlined the show. It was one of several gigs over the year which found the DS3 sharing stages with a succession of amazing performers including Willie Nile, the Oli Brown Band and Charlie Lankester and the Mojo Killers. The Trio also made a memorable appearance at the London 2012 Olympics, playing on the Emerging Icons stage in the Olympic Park (twice).

In November, the DS3 recorded a new single, "America Here's My Boy". The song was written by Beck Hansen as part of his album "Song Reader", which he "released" (or published, really) in sheet music form only in December. The DS3 version was produced by John Reynolds (who has worked with Sinead O'Connor, U2, Brian Eno and many others) at New Air Studio in London. David wrote about the session for The Sunday Times, and the newspaper also made a video which told the story of the recording of the track. The song was released on December 31, the eighth anniversary of the DS3.

Number crunching in 2013

David was invited to perform a spoken-word session on Janice Long's midnight show on BBC Radio 2 in March. Janice played the band's records, waded through all the upcoming tour dates, and got David to recite "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. It was a lot of fun.

DS4 first gig: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar), Jos Mendoza (bass/vocals), Geoff Peel (guitar/vocals), Jack Sinclair (drums/vocals).

DS4 first gig: David Sinclair (vocals/guitar), Jos Mendoza (bass/vocals), Geoff Peel (guitar/vocals), Jack Sinclair (drums/vocals). Photo: Marilyn Kingwill

A 7-inch vinyl edition of "America, Here's My Boy" b/w "Loneliness (Won't Leave me Alone)" was released on National Record Store Day, April 20. The band spent the day in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, a town with three independent record shops, no less. They played a gig that night at Subtones in Cheltenham, their second show as support act on Willie Nile's UK tour.

Willie Nile is a blue-collar, rock'n'roll legend from New York. At this time he was gradually building up a following in the UK and Europe the old-fashioned way: one gig at a time. The DS3 had an amazing time out on the road with him and his brilliant band, which was chronicled in a story for The Sunday Times.

A seismic upheaval occurred when George moved from London to Los Angeles in October. The Granite Man played his last gig with the group at the Grey Horse, Kingston on September 22. It took two great musicians to replace him. Jos Mendoza, aka the Wolfman of Shepherds Bush, made his debut on bass and BVs at The Raven on October 19. Young, debonair and enviably hirsute, he brought swing and swagger to the bottom end.

Meanwhile, the band was also honoured to welcome the south London guitar legend Geoff Peel as a full-time addition to the line-up. Geoff first played a guest spot with the group on stage at the 100 Club on May 2, and has kept on showing up ever since. Bowing to mathematical inevitability, the David Sinclair Trio now became the David Sinclair Four.

Happy New Beard in 2014

The band began the year camped out at Livingstone Brown's studio in Coldharbour Lane deep in the duchy of Brixton. With Livi producing, engineering and occasionally performing outrageous feats of mental calculus, the Four recorded and refined the songs that would comprise the DS group's fourth album. It was a painstaking creative process.

Gravesend 2: David & Geoff at Bluesfest 2014.

Gravesend 2: David & Geoff at Bluesfest 2014. Photo: Marilyn Kingwill

Meanwhile, across town in Ladbroke Grove, Jack was working 80-hour weeks at Sarm Studios, which didn't leave a lot of time for playing gigs, especially once he had also taken charge of mixing the new album. His replacement for many of the DS4's live engagements during the year was Keir Adamson, a personable young drummer from Buckhurst Hill, Essex. Keir made his debut with typical aplomb at a string of superb shows in Chester where the DS4 played as part of Fresh Tracks, an international collective which began life at the Shennanton Songwriting Festival in September 2013. The spirit of musical adventure and camaraderie of the Chester shows in May set the band on a roll for the rest of the year.

David's beard got mixed reviews. No one was very sure where it came from or where it was going. With comparisons ranging from Leo Tolstoy to Captain Birdseye ringing in its ears, it eventually left the stage, to isolated calls for an encore.

Among the highlights of a busy summer schedule, the DS4 played at the Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire, the Mold Blues & Soul Festival in Flintshire, Wales and the Bexhill Festival of the Sea in East Sussex. In September the band played a memorable gig at the Half Moon, Putney with the American singer-songwriter Jesse Terry, who joined the DS4 on stage to play three of his songs. Later in the year, the Four shared stages and wardrobe-sized dressing rooms with a procession of rock'n'roll legends including the Bluefields, the Mick Ralphs Blues Band, Warner E. Hodges and Graham Bonnet.

The new album – entitled "4" - was mastered by Tony Dixon at Masterpiece in Hammersmith on December 18.

Chester 4: Geoff Peel, Keir Adamson, David Sinclair, Jos Mendoza at Brook Street Carnival 2014.

Chester 4: Geoff Peel, Keir Adamson, David Sinclair, Jos Mendoza at Brook Street Carnival 2014. Photo: Marilyn Kingwill